Willow Lakes, nestled high in the Gore Range surrounded by its jagged rugged peaks, is breathtaking — one of Colorado’s best day hikes or weekend backpacking adventures.
I’ve hiked many trails in the Gore Range and it never disappoints!
Trail Stats and Map are Located at the Bottom.
Begin at the Willowbrook Trailhead and head to your right on Ditches Trail, eventually meeting up with North Willow Creek Trail, and the hike begins. Aspens, pines, and wildflowers line the way.
Note: Heading straight (South Willow Creek Trail) takes you to Willow Creek Falls, a more leisurely hike. Beautiful beginner hike. It’s long but doable for any healthy person acclimated to the altitude.
I am always thrilled at the first sign of what lies ahead, high mountain peaks appearing and knowing it gets better and better.
Be ready for a spirited hike up. This trail is a grueling, non-stop, uphill trek, but worth it when approaching those ragged peaks!
Watch the trail signs and head to Upper Willow Lakes, still trudging upward, and soon eye-popping views of the jagged ridges of the Gore Range appear. The trees are weather-beaten, the rocks bigger, the terrain gorgeous.
A waterfall, then the first lake with panoramic views to the east. We lingered here for a while, gawking at the pristine blues.
If you can reach above the tree line, this is where your heart expands with awe.
I am practically skipping now hiking among these glorious peaks. I hear marmots and pikas but haven’t spotted one yet.
It’s easy hiking now across the tundra, pines, and rocks below the peaks of the Gore Range. The trek getting here long forgotten.
The trail ends at Willow Lake. It’s sensational. It’s obvious why so many backpackers line the shores, staying for days. Fabulous hike.
I have lived in Colorado for 50 years and have hiked trail after trail. I am still in awe every time I find a new one. This hike is no exception!
Notable: > Trekking Poles: for water crossings and steep downhill rocky terrain. > Bug Spray: Especially in the heat of summer. > Rain Gear: At this altitude, weather can change in minutes. > Electrolytes: Your body dehydrates quickly at high altitudes. (carry extra water).
11.6 miles out & back
Elevation gain: 2742′
Popular for backpacking adventures
> Eagles Nest Wilderness (permits for overnight camping required)
Leashed dogs ok
The trail begins at Willowbrook Trailhead
Limited parking – come early
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